A Gore farm machinery company’s shoddy repairs to a tractor have landed it with a fine of $239,063 and reparations of $103,459 awarded to an injured farm worker.
Scott Alexander McRae was sentenced in the North Shore District Court this month after a worker on his Wellsford farm was killed in a tractor incident in December 2016.
The worker was driving a tractor towing a trailer carrying two bales of bailage when he lost traction on a slope. The tractor and trailer jack-knifed and the tractor rolled, fatally injuring the driver.
McRae was charged under sections of the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. The maximum penalty is a fine not exceeding $300,000.
WorkSafe found that the farmer had done no risk assessment of the farm and the tasks taking place on it. Nor had he noted that the tractor’s ROPS was severely corroded, contrary to guidance on ROPS on tractors.
Tractors are a key contributor to New Zealand farming’s unacceptable number of farm deaths, WorkSafe says. In the last six years 30 NZers have died while using them.
Farmers are legally required to have an effective way of identifying and managing the risks in work on farms, including the risks in the use of vehicles.
WorkSafe’s head of specialist interventions Simon Humphries commented, “A health and safety system helps an employer to identify the risks that might kill or seriously injure him, his workers and others on a farm.
“It’s not to add paperwork or more work, but to… ensure everyone can head home healthy and safe at the end of a day.
“The failures on behalf of the [farmer] showed a general lack of engagement in health and safety matters. There were shortcomings throughout the operation and this is a tragic instance where these failures have [caused death].”